John W. O'Brien, a former Roman Catholic parish priest who later headed the Home and Schools Program for Baltimore's public schools, died of leukemia Thursday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was 84.
The son of A. Seymour O'Brien, an attorney, and Helen Frances Kelly O'Brien, a homemaker, John William O'Brien was born in Baltimore and raised on Canterbury Road in the city's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood.
He began his studies at St. Charles Minor Seminary and continued at St. Mary's Seminary at Paca Street, where he studied philosophy from 1951 to 1953.
Then-Archbishop Lawrence J. Shehan sent Dr. O'Brien to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium in preparation for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Belgium in 1957.
He began his pastoral ministry in 1957 at St. Rita Roman Catholic Church in Dundalk. He remained there until 1965, when he left to teach at the old St. Paul's Latin High School in East Baltimore.